Off The Beaten Track connects private landowners to tourists offering them access to unspoilt and secluded destinations that they would not normally be able to experience. Inspired by an episode of Country Calendar which featured a beautiful rural spot that was only accessed by the private landowners, Michele and Roy Connell were struck by the untapped business potential in New Zealand. In the wake of some challenging times for farmers, unlocking some of this opportunity to generate another revenue stream was an exciting option.
Whether it be a scenic spot for pitching a tent, a riverside spot to park your campervan, or a night bunking down in the hay barn or woolshed, landowners can offer a range of accommodation and experiences to tourists who want to discover the real NZ.
We grabbed Michele as she was heading overseas and asked her a few quick questions about starting a business.
What have you learnt about starting a new business from scratch?
Patience is required! While it is tempting to hit the ground running, getting the fundamentals right takes twice as long as you think. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance or good advice, there are always people willing to support and encourage you and equally don’t be put off by the nay sayers, there are always a few of these along the way also!
Tell us about your SODA experience and how they helped you on your OTBT journey.
Our SODA experience has been fantastic. The amazing SODA team provides a supportive environment with access to expert advisors, a network of contacts and financial support to gain additional knowledge. They also provided us with Murray McCaw, our awesome Business Growth Advisor. Murray’s expertise has added immeasurably to the plan to take OTBT to the next level.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome so far?
The creation of a user friendly, functional website that is easy for both our landowners and holidaymakers to navigate. The website is the core of the business, and we are moving to version 2 currently.
Where does your ambition come from? What drives you?
I have always been an ambitious person, owning my own businesses from a relatively young age. Both Roy & I are driven to succeed, continuously exploring opportunities or new ideas within our current businesses. The idea for OTBT came from us watching an episode of Country Calendar, deciding our idea was good enough that if we didn’t do it, someone else would which motivated to us to where we are today.
Lastly, what’s your top tip for other Kiwi business entrepreneurs?
It is equally as important to recognise what idea is worth your time and effort, and what idea you need to let go of. If you are passionate about your idea, surround yourself with positive and supportive people and hang in there and enjoy the ride!
Off The Beaten Track is is a client of business incubator SODA Inc business incubator and they will be presenting at the ASB Ambition Showcase on 9th November 2017.